Siakam posts double-double as resilient Raptors beat 76ers on road to extend playoff series

The Toronto Raptors faced elimination for the second time in three days – and emerged victorious once again.

Pascal Siakam scored 23 points and 10 rebounds and the Raptors beat the 76ers 103-88 on Monday to cut Philadelphia’s lead in their first-round playoff series to 3-2.

Precious Achiuwa had 17 points, while OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. finished with 16 apiece for the Raptors, who were missing injured All-Star guard Fred VanVleet. Scottie Barnes, in his second game after sitting out two with a sprained ankle, had 12 points and eight rebounds.

The Raptors will be eliminated again in Game 6 in Toronto on Thursday.

WATCH | The Raptors force Game 6 with a road win over the 76ers:

Raptors force Game 6 with win over 76ers

Pascal Siakam drops 23 points, leads Toronto to a 103-88 win over Philadelphia forcing Game 6 of the series. 1:03

Joel Embiid, who was playing with a torn right thumb ligament, had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sixers.

Two nights after their 110-102 victory in Toronto to force a Game 5, the Raptors got off to a good start, taking a nine-point lead in the first quarter and stretching it to 14 in the second. They led in double digits for most of the third and took a 75-66 advantage in the fourth.

Boos rained down from the crowd when Barnes threw a cheeky no-look pass to Achiuwa for a dunk for a 13-point lead with 6:11 remaining. James Harden’s three-pointer cut the difference to nine points with 6:11 remaining, but after a couple of minutes without a score by either team, Anunoby drilled in a three-pointer for 13 points break with 3:52 remaining.

When Anunoby went to the hoop for a dunk with 2:14 to go, thousands of Philadelphia fans headed for the exits as if there had been an evacuation order. Raptors coach Nick Nurse emptied his bench with 1:19 left.

Two nights earlier in Toronto, Siakam had posted a playoff career-high 34 points and the Raptors pulled out to beat Philly and avoid elimination.

“Somebody’s gotta do it”

No team in NBA history has come back to win a seven-game series after leading 3-0. The nurse called it a “heckuva challenge” and said “someone has to do it”. Thirteen teams came back from 3-1 deficits, and Sixers coach Doc Rivers lost two of them. That would be almost fitting for the Raptors, who have been through a lot of upheaval over the past two seasons, including having to play in Tampa, Fla. last season due to COVID-19 border restrictions.

VanVleet confirmed in Monday morning’s shootout that he will not play due to a strained left hip flexor sustained during the first half of Game 4. VanVleet, who battled a bruised knee all the season, said his body had “exploded”. He didn’t know if he would be healed enough to play in Game 6.

The Raptors got off to a good start, harassing the Sixers in 10 turnovers in the first quarter. Gary Trent Jr. had nine points in the frame to lead the way, and his downstroke put the Raptors up nine points in less than five minutes in the game. The Sixers went one point closer with a 10-2 run that included an unfortunate tip from Achiuwa on the Philly net when he and Barnes both went up to grab a rebound. The Raptors led 29-27 to start the second.

Toronto opened the second with a 12-0 run that featured a dribble behind the back of Barnes, the Raptors’ new NBA rookie of the year, on the fast break. Siakam’s finger roll earned Toronto 14 points. The closest the Sixers got in the quarter was six points, and the Raptors headed into halftime with a 54-41 lead. The disgruntled Sixers crowd of 20,517 fans booed their team off the ground.

The Sixers won Games 1 and 2 by a combined 35 points, then Embiid hit a three-point clutch with less than a second left in overtime in a heartbreaking Game 3.

Game 7, if needed, would return to Philadelphia on Saturday.